Baltimore Ravens Draft Grades & Recap: Why Eric DeCosta is a genius


During this week’s NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens built up assets to help construct the future of their franchise. With their very first selection, general manager Eric DeCosta moved down three picks to secure a pair of Day 3 selections who turned out to be Iman Marshall and Trace McSorley.

Entering his first draft as full-time GM of the Ravens, DeCosta has the pressure of former GM Ozzie Newsome’s drafting abilities. While it has faded in recent years, Newsome selected two eventual Hall of Famers in his first two picks. Expectations were understandably high because some within the fanbase and many analysts question the sustainability of the Ravens. A successful draft would lock in a healthy future for the likes of Lamar Jackson

The Ravens went full blast into trying to succeed in 2019 by surrounding Lamar Jackson with talent. Baltimore hauled in a pair of wideouts, a running back, and an offensive guard to strengthen the offense. As a whole, the Ravens attacked their needs and solidified holes on both sides of the ball.

Round 1, Selection 25


Marquise Brown, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma

Grade: A

Based solely on value alone, Hollywood Brown was a tremendous pick. The Ravens traded down from No.22 to No.25 with Philadelphia and received the 127th and 197th overall picks. Instead of just picking up Brown at 22, DeCosta stockpiled resources and still got the receiver he desired. Brown, the consensus best receiver prospect, showcased his collegiate skills like very few. Brown totaled a pair of1,000-yard seasons in his career and finished with the 8th most yards in college football in 2018. Brown’s true upside stems from his ability in space. As one of the fastest receivers in the class, Brown projects as a game-breaking talent right out of the gate. The only qualm one can have with the selection is the lack of a fit due to Brown’s size and blocking abilities in a run-heavy offense. However, the Ravens did acquire a star weapon, so they cannot be docked too much.


Round 3, Selection 21

Jaylon Ferguson, Defensive End, Louisiana Tech

Grade: A-

Ferguson fills in the vacancy left by the departures of Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs. The all-time leading sack master in the history of FBS football, Ferguson, projects as a plus in the passing game and the rushing game. Ferguson may have to overcome a talent gap between the group of five and the NFL, but he should be a good player at the next level. This is a great pick for Baltimore as they satisfy a need with someone who produced on the field. He may not immediately be a star, but Ferguson can develop into a relentless pass rusher and all-around defensive stud.

Round 3, Selection 29


Miles Boykin, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame

Grade: A

The six-foot-four target should immediately boost the passing attack of the Ravens as the former Fighting Irish is adept at changing directions to maximize explosion even with his large frame. Despite being dramatically different frame-wise compared to Brown, Boykin and Brown have a similar skill set in demolishing coverages. Boykin could be a plus route runner in the NFL, which could spell disaster for other secondaries as Lamar Jackson becomes comfortable with his new targets. While he will probably be a second-tier option for the Ravens offense in 2019, Boykin offers high upside moving forward as a lanky speedster with electric abilities in space.

Round 4, Selection 11

Justice Hill, Running Back, Oklahoma State

Grade: A++

One may scoff at Hill’s absurd combine and refer to his as a combine trainer, but Hill projects as just the right back for the Ravens. As of now, the element of speed in the Ravens backfield is fulfilled solely by Lamar Jackson. With the acquisition of Mark Ingram, the Ravens backfield got better, but they also slowed down. In order for the Ravens to reach their maximum potential, they needed a true speed demon who could take any carry for a touchdown. Justice Hill is that man. In addition to his exceptional ability in the backfield, Hill’s explosiveness could lend itself in the short passing attack as the Ravens had minimal running back usage on passing downs. Hill is a tremendous value pick, and he should see a few snaps on passing downs as the likes of Ingram, Gus Edwards, and Kenneth Dixon lack the boom potential of Hill.

Round 4, Selection 21

Ben Powers, Offensive Guard, Oklahoma

Grade: A

Not the sexiest pick, but Powers offers significant experience on the interior of the offensive line. Powers should be an efficient and effective pass blocker, and he should have the capability to grow as a good run blocker. Powers could slide in at left guard for the 2019 season, but the Ravens could be grooming the six-foot-four force to be the successor to Marshal Yanda at right guard. Either way, Powers should bring stability and maturity to the line as the youth on the line develops into one of the best units in the league over the next few seasons. Joining the likes of Ronnie Stanley and former Oklahoma teammate Orlando Brown, Powers is a good value selection and should feature in some part in the 2019 season.

Round 4, Selection 25

Iman Marshall, Cornerback, Southern California

Grade: B

Marshall really finds himself in the wrong era of football. While healthily sized as a corner, Marshall lacks the athletic talent to oppose the high-end pass catchers of opposing offenses. In the passing game, Marshall has skills at breaking up passes, but he will be a step slow compared to other options. Marshall could slot in nicely as a ballhawk cornerback, but he was inconsistent as a Trojan. Despite his shortcomings as a pass coverage piece, Marshall is a good tackler who plays well in space and maintains clean technique and play recognition. In a passing league, the importance of a good run-help corner is diminished, but Marshall should garner playtime immediately based on his abilities in the run. Marshall isn’t a great pick like most of his contemporaries, but his skill set should get snaps by Week 1.

Round 5, Selection 22

Daylon Mack, Defensive Tackle, Texas A&M

Grade: B

With Michael Pierce due to receive a truckload of money soon, the Ravens might be looking for a replacement for a run-stuffing interior lineman. Mack may not see the field as much as other rookies for Baltimore, but he could be critical for the Ravens’ defensive line moving forward. Mack is effective in run defense, but his pass rush leaves something to be desired. Mack is adept at turning his size and speed into backfield penetrations, overpowering many offensive linemen. Mack only gets a B here due to his proficiency in rush defense and his comparative lack of a pass rush, but he is yet another quality pick by general manager Eric DeCosta. Mack is a contingency plan for the future of the interior line, and he should be utilized accordingly.

Round 6, Selection 24

Trace McSorley, Quarterback, Penn State

Grade: C

No disrespect meant for McSorley because he was a great player in college, but the pick here is slightly baffling. The Ravens have their quarterback depth chart set with Jackson and backup Robert Griffin III. Assuming McSorley plays quarterback in the NFL, this is the only real wasted selection of the draft for the Ravens. Despite this, McSorley fits the mold for what the Ravens have been looking for in a quarterback since the rise of Lamar Jackson as McSorley is a mobile gunslinger. At the very least, McSorley can come in and push Jackson and Griffin III to continue to improve and solidify their positions as starter and backup. McSorley has the potential to change positions, but he will most likely be used as a quarterback.

As a whole, the Ravens had an impressive draft. While they did not have the Cardinals luck of getting good players to fall into their laps, the Ravens maximized talent with each pick and come out of the draft as an improved football team. Despite the offensive focus, the Ravens still managed to find good talent for the defense moving forward. On the offensive end, the Ravens have four guys who should be difference makers by 2020.

Eric DeCosta’s first draft as Ravens’ general manager earns a well-deserved A- due to its apparent value and focus on improving the roster from top to bottom.


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